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Jean Lambert London's Green MEP

Green MEP calls for EU action to reduce plastic bag litter

EURO-MP Jean Lambert has hit out at the European Commission after a proposal to reduce the use of plastic shopping bags stopped short of recommending EU-wide action.

The London MEP, who has conducted a study for the European Parliament’s Employment and Social Affairs Committee on the potential for jobs recycling plastics, said the European Commission’s decision today to leave member states free to tackle the problem at national level was ‘sitting on the fence’.

“Plastic bags are a massive source of environmentally-destructive waste – and a genuine cross-border problem,” Ms Lambert said.

“Each year, about eight billion lightweight plastic bags end up as litter, accumulating in the environment and ending up in our seas, waterways and the general environment, with majorly negative impacts on wildlife and health.

“Lightweight plastic bags are very low-hanging fruit when it comes to reducing unnecessary plastic waste, and its impact on the environment.

“As a number of member states have already shown, the use of these bags can be significantly reduced with effective policy-making. Given plastic waste is an issue that transcends borders, a coherent EU approach, with clear targets for reduction, is badly needed. While member states should be able to choose how to reduce plastic bag use – whether through bans or levies – there should be obligatory reduction targets, otherwise only those member states that want to act will do so.

“The Commission has missed an opportunity today but we will seek to ensure the Parliament redresses this.”

Ms Lambert made her comments after the European Commission issued a statement earlier this week rejecting an EU-wide approach.